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"Where do I begin when talking about my experience with Ashley Bird and The BarBelles?

Well… I am 31 and I have struggled with emotional/binge eating my whole life and I have struggled with my weight since I was around 20 years old. I have gone through phases of eating “clean” and working out 7 days a week, but when I didn’t see results quickly enough, I would give up and revert back to my old habits. It just wasn’t realistic, not something I could maintain over any length of time.

By the age of 30, I had accepted the fact that I was just an overweight inactive person. Since I had tried so many things, I figured that I was stuck feeing unhappy, unattractive, and not liking the package I was walking around the world in. I thought it was my reality. And if I hadn’t met Ashley, I truly believe that it would have been my future.

I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. Eating was the most exciting part of my day. Food was my reward, it was what I looked forward to, it was my vice. I was addicted. The idea of weighing and tracking everything that went into my mouth was overwhelming and felt scary and super restrictive. Because of this mentality, I had a few “false starts” to my journey. If you ask Ashley, she might tell you that I was her biggest skeptic and most challenging case. My head was filled with all these myths and advice about how to lose weight from the tv, internet, magazines, friends, nutritionists, you name it! And some of the things Ashley was telling me to do went against everything I had been told but I had to forget all these things if I wanted to submit to the process. 

So naturally, being a skeptic, when I started on my customized nutrition program, I questioned EVERYTHING and anything. I had a slow start at weight loss. I was reluctant to trust what I thought was just another weight loss program. I finally reached a point where I decided that I had nothing to lose, and that I would submit to the process and put my trust in Ashley, just like that ladies on her poster had.

Once I made this decision, my body and life began to change. I started with Ashley in her 6 week group exercise program and nutrition program. I began sending off reports from week to week allowed me to see my progress even if I didn’t see it in the mirror or feel it. This in itself motived me to keep going. It showed me how much I was progressing and it made me excited to see where I could be by the next week.

While following my nutrition program, people would see what I was doing and they had all kinds of commentary for me, “you’re eating too much if you want to lose weight. Should you really be eating so close to bedtime? You didn’t work out today, should you really have that protein shake? You’re eating too much protein” and the list goes on. I had to ignore all these people and their comments. You can’t listen to them if you want success. With all this information and “advice” that bombards us from every direction, it’s no wonder that people feel discouraged. They have no idea who to believe, how to invest their energy, what is worth their money, or what to even put in their mouths. It can be paralyzing. I joke with Ashley, I said that if Ashley tells you to brush your teeth with your left hand, you brush your teeth with your left hand. I’ve learned to listen to what she says. She has the knowledge and the training. The proof is in the results of her clients’. Once you trust the process and commit to following it, that’s when the real changes start. And let me tell you, it happens so much faster than you expect. And I can’t emphasize that enough.

I know there will be women reading this and looking at my transformation pictures thinking “she’s just one of those rare weirdos who was chubby and is now addicted to exercise and just eats salad”. It’s just not the case. Number one, I don’t eat salad often lol, and I was exactly where you are now. Year after year I put on more weight, and I felt trapped in the jail that was my body. Then Ashley came into my life and now I am down 80 plus pounds, I am in the best shape of my life, and I am training for my third powerlifting competition.

Ashley takes all the guesswork out of weight loss and fitness. Ashley has been my cheerleader and my coach. I ask her questions constantly. She pushes me to be the best version of myself. She reminded me that I am an athlete. She has completely changed my life. And when I tell Ashley that she has saved my life, I truly mean it. I needed her to tell me what to do. I was stuck. She tells me to give myself more credit. But I could have continued putting effort into my same old attempts at weight loss and fitness and I would have been spinning my wheels and just watching the number on the scale climb year after year. If Ashley can turn me, an overweight, inactive, food-addict, into a muscular athlete who views food as fuel, she is truly a miracle worker.

People say that losing weight doesn’t make you happy. And they are right. But I can say that my physical transformation has become an emotional transformation as well. For the first time in over 10 years, I feel comfortable in my own skin. I have confidence. I feel strong, and I believe that I can conquer anything.

If I could go back in time to when I started struggling with my weight, I would tell myself that today is the first day of the rest of your life. Sign up and commit to the BarBelles program. It is an investment in your physical and emotional health. If you want to be an entirely different person even four months from now, put your trust in Ashley and you WILL achieve your body goals. Submit to the process!!"

- Jennifer




"The BarBelles basically made me realize you can live and enjoy all aspects of life in a healthy balanced way! I had such a straggle with food and exercising until I started working with you guys. Being strong mentally is just as; if not more; important than being strong physically. I am so tankful for the guidance that the BarBelles has provided and continues to provide to me! The photos certainly tell the tale!"

- Stephanie N



"Where to begin….

I spent the better part of my childhood being called “the fat kid”. In fact my Cousin and I were nick named “piglet #1 and piglet #2. Kinda sticks with you.  I was definitely plump. So began a lifelong midgame of battling the fat monster. Fortunately I never had to deal with the illness of having an eating disorder of any kind. But I did battle with food. Not that I ate too much but that I began trying everything I could to “not be fat”.

I grew up watching my Mom try every diet known to mankind. Sometimes she succeeded and sometimes she didn’t. What I do know is that she was never really happy and that made me sad. She never called me fat. In fact I don’t think she every eluded to me being overweight at all. I was never put on a diet. I did that all by myself. But I certainly had an example to follow.

There were many years of trying all the Canadian Living, Chatelaine, and every other magazine out there’s latest “lose 10 pounds with this simple plan” fads which included juices, eating beets, eating tuna, eating no fat, eating low fat, and the list goes on. I found out in the process that I actually don’t mind beets but they do nothing to help you lose weight. And as for tuna, well, you stand a better chance of having bad breath than you do losing weight eating only this. Exit fad diets.

I was very athletic in school. I started playing sports in grade 5 and carried on through high school. I rode horses and spent a ton of time at the barn too. Looking back now I realize I wasn’t nearly as “fat” during my teenage years as I remembered being. But that’s the mind game. That’s the negative self-talk that beats down any spark of positivity you find for yourself. I still remember to this day what was at the time the best moment in my life. I had made the junior basketball team as a midget. We were in the change room crowded around the team list that had just been posted when one of the “itty bitty titty committee” (you know who they are) said “Omg there’s no one fat on the team!” I can remember standing there thinking “OH MY GOSH! They don’t think I’m fat!” Sad to think that carried as much weight to me as it did but that was the reality of it. Fuel for the mind game fire.

I had my first boyfriend when I was 13. Boys can be dumb yes but some are just mean. Any time I would mention having gone for a run he would comment “you mean more like plodding”. Not the nicest thing to say. Took me a long time to wake up to that one and move on. Did a lot of damage in that time. Fast forward to my late teen years. I’m dating a guy who supposedly cares about me. I can’t even remember how it came out. I must have been glutting myself on some ridiculous banquet (wait…..never did that) when he said, in all seriousness, “what, just because you have a boyfriend you think you can just get all big and fat?”. You might think I would yell, cry, break up with him….but all I did was go and run myself to exhaustion. For someone who was pretty smart I made a lot of dumb decisions.

I spent a lot of years fighting my emotions and perception of myself. It took me a long time to really start to let go of the importance I’d placed on my weight. But I had solid periods where I was “happy”. I had many periods of feeling fat too though. Balance….very tough to achieve.

After getting married I started gaining weight. In fact I did the Slimfast shakes leading up to the wedding in an effort to look good in my dress. Slimfast shakes don’t make you look good in your wedding dress….just putting that out there. Next on the list was Dr. Bernstein. For anyone who doesn’t know, this plan is extremely low carb. Like 3 triscuits a day max low carb. Plus Vit E injections to decrease fat as well. Some supplements to try and balance you out and daily weigh-ins in the constant striving for “new numbers”. While I did lose weight with this “diet” I was far more successful in draining my bank account and being hungry and grumpy. Not sustainable. Shocking I know.

Moving on. Had babies. Was not going to be one of those “it’s baby weight” people. Bring on the Beach Body programs. Slim in 6, Tae Bo, Turbo Jam, Yoga Booty Ballet (actually really good lol), and of course Insanity. That it is. They all “worked” but nothing sticks. None of them are sustainable.

I also became a fitness instructor during this time. It was in these years that I finally altered my perception of myself. While I still had goals for my level of fitness I was genuinely accepting of my body and obsessing less about how I thought I looked to the World. I got “smart” again if you will J I enjoyed what I did but there came a point when I needed to do more….Back to school….what was I thinking…lol

Going back to school was tough. Tough financially. Tough mentally. And tough physically. I had 2 kids, a house, a mortgage….I had life. Something had to give. I couldn’t keep up with all the responsibilities, go to work, and be any sort of a decent Mom so I quit teaching. When working out is your job it’s relatively easy to stay fit. Sit at a desk, do homework, raise a family, keep house, run errands, keep insane hours, placements at hospitals, eating like crap, extra-curriculars for kids, make dinners, make lunches, what’s for breakfast= no working out= putting back on all the weight I’d worked so hard to lose. “Yay! I get to start over!” said NO ONE EVER!!!!!!

So…what now?? Some things work but nothing seems to last. Gotta find something new. But my years have made realize I don’t care what people think anymore. I am too old for the circus now. And I am not willing to give much up anymore. The word is balance. REAL balance and sustainability. Otherwise COUNT ME OUT! 

Then I see this post on Facebook. Ah Facebook. There’s this 6 week transformation program. First thought? Not likely any different. But let’s read it. And as I read I thought to myself “I think this is exactly what I need”. Different. Real. Sustainable. That word!

One round turned into 2, turned into real change. I felt great. And I was getting back to being fit. I won’t lie. It was overwhelming at first. I worried about being so food focused after all my years of battling with it. I felt like there was NO WAY I was ever going to be able to sort out “hitting my macros” nor did I want to. It was hard. But I did stick to it. And hard gave way to becoming really good at estimating portions (don’t worry, I checked).  It was sustainable. Yes, I sound like a broken record but it is pivotal factor for success.

But being the person that I am I needed a new challenge. I am turning 40 next year. Yep. 40. And since I can’t afford to go out and buy a sports car or vacation property in Hawaii I settled on a UFE competition. I know….I said earlier I got smart again….hahahaha what????! I wanted to push myself physically and mentally. Comfort zone gone. Mission accomplished.

So round 3 turned into show prep. A long haul. A lot of hard work. And a lot of “stick to it”. But here I sit on the other side now. Happy, healthy, and Strong af! LOL

Bottom line. My kids have watched me get healthier and stronger eating real food, lots of food. They’ve seen me have my treats too. I do not deprive myself of the things I want. The focus has never (not in any of the years they’ve been alive) been on being skinny. In fact the words “do I look fat. You’ll get fat. Do I look skinny?” have never been used in our house. The focus has always been on being healthy. Being strong. Eating to fuel my body, my muscles, my heart, my lungs. They have seen what good eating habits and a healthy relationship with food can do for you.

I can say I finally found something that lasts. Something that truly lasts. I am healthy. I am happy! And I AM STRONG!"

- Stephanie M